Thursday, January 14, 2021

What A Warm Up Can Become

What a Warm Up Can Become © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist
The Warm Ups Have Multiplied!

What to do with all these littles?!  Previously, I shared The Value of Beginning with a Warm Up...reasons for this and how I go about my warm up process in my daily painting sessions.  (I've linked the title if you're curious to read it later.)  There's so much gained in this way of transitioning into a creative mindset.  I have chosen to make my warm ups quite small at about 2 1/2" by 3 1/2" though the size varies.  There are several uses for these small artworks.  

Once I realized the difference daily warm ups make, I was no longer faced with so much resistance to create.  The little warm ups began to accumulate quickly.  The pressure to perform is lessened so these small beginnings have a greater chance of being something worth keeping.  Today, I am sharing 3 ways to use the warm up paintings that have accumulated over time.

3 Ways To Use Your Warm Ups

Small warm ups on watercolor paper. © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

1.  Shop for some lovely little frames and put little warm up artwork on display.

I have found my favorite places to shop for frames to be Hobby Lobby, TJ Maxx, and Michaels.  Hobby Lobby offers frames in sizes for the smallest artwork at a discount that makes them very affordable.  Artwork of this size fits perfectly on a dresser, side table, or shelf and can be changed out with other artwork so easily.  It's amazing to me how much a painting feels "real" once it's in a frame.  Offering these to customers on a tight budget is a great idea.  The artwork by an artist they love is now an option!  An artist can gift this small framed artwork as a thank you to anyone who has shown generosity in support of their art business.

Watercolor warm ups.  One in frame.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

A watercolor warm up in white frame. © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

2.  Create a note card with extra artistic flair.

Over time, I have gathered a supply of blank cards and envelopes from Michaels and Hobby Lobby.  My favorite choice is the brown kraft paper style rather than white cardstock.  A stash of washi tape, rubber stamps, and twine make the project options limitless.  Using your choice of tape to attach the artwork, the finished note card will be ready to send off to a friend.  If you should find the washi tape doesn't hold well enough, use a piece of 3m scrapbooking double-stick tape to attach the watercolor paper to the card.  You can decide whether you want the artwork to be easily removed to be displayed in a frame by the recipient.  This is the little gift I enjoy sending off to those who purchase my original artwork.  I often write a little personal note on the back of the brown tag or card; I describe the piece on the front, whether it's a trimming from a larger artwork or a warm up.  Wrap it in a little cellophane sleeve with a business card and include it with the artwork.

An assortment of watercolor warm ups.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

My stash of supplies for gift cards and tags.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

These little tokens of creative expression can be such a special treat to gift to others.  The time it takes to put one together and the supplies can be very minimal.  The impact in contrast, very touching and special.  How much more personalized could these be?

Simple ways to use a warm up.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Basic tags and notecards with warm ups added. © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

A brown kraft tag with a watercolor warm up. © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

3.  Use the warm up as a planning stage for artwork projects

I have so many sketchbooks.  I am afraid to count them.  I buy them with good intentions but avoid using them.  I don't really know why but hopefully, one day, I will overcome this avoidance.  Sketchbooks are great for planning with quick sketches but the paper in most is not the right weight for watercolor washes.  I have one small one that I have used; Reflexions Aqua Watercolor Spiral Sketch Book by Creative Mark is the one I enjoy using especially in my travel art kit.  I purchased it from Jerry's Artarama years ago.  I should have bought up a stack of them in varying sizes.  If you have a recommendation for a watercolor paper sketchbook you love, please add to the comments below!  I mention sketchbooks because I needed a solution to planning for beginning new artwork projects.

Whether the surface is a small scrap of watercolor paper or a page in a sketchbook, these quick watercolor studies help with planning out composition, color choices, values, and much more.  I love using my small sketchbooks when on location.  

A sketch book for watercolor on the go or planning.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

These thumbnail sketches are similar, though not really warm ups.  They are smaller and quicker to complete.  The process still results in miniatures that can be trimmed and used for other projects.  Bristol (smooth) was the surface used for these.

Making small watercolor sketches for planning. © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Here is my larger sketchbook, lighter weight like a drawing paper, maybe 50-60 lb. weight for thickness.  It can take light watercolor washes, but will buckle when wet.  I like it for the size of pages and the sketchbook design.  It has a thick cover and the spiral binding is easy to flip through.

Making a variety of sketches for planning. © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

It's important to experiment with a variety of weights of papers and surfaces.  The final work won't have the same touch when working from one surface and then on heavier weight watercolor paper.  It's been a while since I painted on hot press watercolor paper.  Hot press watercolor paper is very smooth.  I have been using cold press for many years and that's my preference; its medium textured surface has more tooth for dry brush techniques.

It can take a little while to switch into art-creating-mindset.  My warm up time helps me transition from other life concerns into this place of expression. So, with this in mind, I am finding that these smaller artworks can help me work through my ideas for compositions and color combinations.  As I paint, I work through my options for light and shadows, pigments to use, and where there might be challenges in my plan.  These finished warm ups can be a general guide for going on to begin a larger artwork with less hesitancy.

I hope you've found some new and helpful ideas for using the little warm ups, the scraps, the left overs that get set aside.  These may seem insignificant but reimagined, they can be beautiful in their own way.

-She must make art.


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